Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, Treatment

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Kidney stones, or renal lithiasis, to give them the medical term, are bad news. If you want to avoid the excruciating pain of passing a kidney stone (so I’m told by two of my personal training clients in London), keep reading.


Symptoms of a kidney stone when it’s in the kidneys include pain in your upper right hand side abdomen, back pain, combined with nausea and vomiting. When you pass a kidney stone, depending on its size and shape, the pain is excruciating, according to those who have experienced it.


Kidney stones are a solid mass of crystals formed from a build-up of calcium oxalate and uric acid, formed inside the kidneys. The kidneys are the body’s blood-filtration system, and the waste product of this filtration process is urine. If you don’t drink enough water on a regular basis, your kidneys will have a harder time flushing waste products through your system, and your chances of getting kidney stones is significantly increased.

Certain foods and drinks, when consumed in excess, can increase your chances of kidney stones. Beer, red meat, sardines, anchovies and shellfish are all culprits.


As the above section suggests, drink plenty of water. That’s your number one way to help prevent kidney stones. In addition, cut down on the above-listed foods & drinks, beer and red meat in particular. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit and lean protein, and some complex-carbs for slow-release energy.


Small kidney stones will pass unaided, with minimal pain. Just drink plenty of water and take pain medication as required. Larger kidney stones may get stuck in one of your ureters (the tube between each kidney and your bladder, through which urine flows into the bladder) which can cause severe pain and may require an operation (known as a lithotripsy) to remove the stone. The lithotripsy (derived from the Greek words for ‘breaking stones’) is a non-invasive procedure using ultrasound shock-waves to break the stone down into smaller pieces, which can then pass through your system.

So your main takeaway is to drink plenty of water to keep well hydrated, and cut down particularly on beer and red meat. There are many health benefits from cutting beer out of your life entirely, but I would recommend red meat in moderation (twice a week) for its many nutritional benefits (protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins).

Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London and an online nutrition coach.

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